Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 5’

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The Love, justice and grace of God © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 5:9-12 – DO I REALLY WANT JUSTICE? (An interview with King David)

ME: David says in Psalm 5:9,10 (NLT) “My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. O God, declare them guilty. Let them be caught in their own traps. Drive them away because of their many sins, for they have rebelled against You” (Psalm 5:10 NLT).

If I had a chance to question King David on these things, I would probably ask…

AVENGE MY ENEMIES?

ME: Should I pray for Justice on the earth; vengeance from God on those who lie about me?  Yet you, David, pray for exactly that. Isn’t this a sinful prayer?

DAVID: There is always a balance of God’s Love and Justice in the Scriptures and in this case, I am asking for Justice. Those who practice deceit inevitably fall into their own traps and I pray that they will do so. After all, such sin is rebellion against God as their King not just me as their king.

Psalm 33:5 (NLT) says “He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.” Notice, God is a God of Love, … and He loves Justice.

LOVE MY ENEMIES?

ME: But how does this line up with the words of Jesus, the Messiah, your descendant?

In Matthew 5:38-48 (NLT) Jesus gives a different perspective on how we are to regard enemies. He says “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.” 

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

LOVE AND HATE 

DAVID: You say that what Jesus says is a totally different perspective, but is it? Look closely. I notice that there is a recognition that followers of Christ do have enemies. The choices we make reflect the Father’s attitude toward enemies. He also has enemies. In Psalm 5:5 (NLT), I have written part of God’s Word, saying “… for You hate all who do evil. 

Yes, let’s admit it. God hates those who do evil, but strangely provides ways for repentance for them anyway. I know this first hand. I know personally God’s justice and grace in action.

So just as I have used the word Hate in a judicial sense in my 5th Psalm, the Love Jesus speaks of is obviously given as an example of what you can actively do in order to live as a follower of Christ. Love is certainly not an emotional response to evil people. It is something you do despite your feelings about sin. Love your enemy in the sense of doing good to them, not in the sense of condoning their evil ways.

Fools do what their enemies want, and do it begrudgingly and under their authority, but free people are those who exercise purity by choice, under the authority of God, doing what we are created for and going the second mile. It provides an example of the love of God at work, which may bring our enemies to repentance. I wanted my son Absalom to come to repentance but it didn’t happen.

UNPRETENTIOUS LOVE AND HATE 

ME: But Romans 12:9ff (NLT) makes it very clear. It says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good…. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. … Live in harmony with each other. … Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

DAVID: Again, I notice in this verse that followers of Christ don’t just pretend to love others and yet they still hate what is wrong. We do not relinquish our essential ethical stance on evil in the world for the sake of loving others. They go hand in hand.

Love, justice and grace animation © Image and Animation created by Ross Cochrane

JUSTICE AND EVIL

ME: Thanks David. In Psalm 5, I am starting to see that you do not pray sinfully or from a human perspective although I can tell you that some commentators I have read have concluded this. It is not that easy to pass over what you are saying about your enemies. I love the fact that you are being honest before God but you also acknowledge that it is only God who can take care of justice. Only He is able to do this.

This is consistent with Romans 12:17-21 (NLT) which says, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” 

DAVID: I can see that followers of Christ recognise that there is evil in the world, but choose to conquer it, not copy it, by doing good.

ME: Yes and Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” 

Jesus didn’t wipe out the Sanhedrin when He was so unjustly treated. He didn’t strike back. Evil people will have their day in God’s courtroom or even experience God’s discipline while they are on earth in all kinds of ways in order to bring them to repentance and faith in Christ.

THE HEART AND HATE

DAVID: I notice that many people want to quote me in Psalm 139:23 (NLT) which says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

But the verse I wrote before this beautiful verse speaks about what I hate.  Few people want to quote my heart in Psalm 139:21-22 (NLT). It says, Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate You? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose You? Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for Your enemies are my enemies.” 

If you remember, I already said in Psalm 5 that God hates them too. I am only agreeing with God.

I would hope that those who follow Christ recognise evil for what it is, recognise enemies for who they are, and Satan for who He is. We choose to hate what is wrong and hold tightly to what is good. We hate what God hates and love what God loves.

CURSING AND BLESSING

God promised Abraham that He would bless those who blessed Israel and curse those who cursed them (Genesis 12:1-3). Let’s not water it down. God has a judicial hatred of sin and those who sin. We are not called to be neutral but to stand for what is right and most importantly live as people who do what is right.

With regards to those who exclude God from their lives, my Psalm calls them rebellious (Psalm 5:10), not only against God but also His anointed king.

ME: Well, Followers of Christ pray the Lord’s prayer, that His kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. That will involve the destruction of sin, rebellion and wickedness of all kinds, but that’s in the hands of a just and loving God.

DAVID: Are you reviled by God who hates sin and sinful people?

ME: In my culture I find the concepts difficult. Nevertheless, the invitation of the Bible is for me to regard sin through the eyes of God.

REDEMPTIVE POTENTIAL

The injunctive we have from God as believers is that we see people from the standpoint of the Cross. We see their redemptive potential. We co-operate with God, who sees His enemies as those with a capacity to repent, just as you, David, repented. We co-operate with God who loves His enemies in the sense that He offers them a way to be forgiven, not that He loves them for their defiled lifestyle.

DAVID: I know firsthand what forgiveness from God is. And despite Absalom’s attempt to overthrow me, I sought to show mercy. I didn’t want to see him die in battle.

In Psalm 5:11 (NLT), I wrote But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your Name may be filled with joy.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not joyful about people lying about me or happy about people trying to murder me. I’m not condoning their sin by ignoring it or trying to see their point of view. I am joyful because I feel safe in the refuge of the Rock of Ages. I recognised that some of those who had a genuine relationship with God were misled and even for them I ask for God to protect them and give them joy.

A SHIELD OF LOVE 

“For You bless the Godly, O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love” (Psalm 5:12 NLT).

ME: What I get from your Psalm is that when I am dislocated from a relationship with God, I am exposed to attack from the circumstances of life. The invitation of Psalm 5 is to take cover by finding security through genuine trust in God.

DAVID: Yes, the shield I refer to in my Psalm is a large shield which covers the whole body. God’s love is such a shield. The only thing my enemies can see is God’s love for me. This shield of love absorbs all that my enemy’s hate can throw against me.

ME: Thankyou David. The invitation of Psalm 5 surely leads me to stand for the Truth, to see evil for what it is, to leave justice to God and to show an active love for my enemiesThis willingness to conquer evil with good provides an example which may bring my enemies to repentance as they see the active nature of the love of God. 

Pastor Ross

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IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

How do I pray when I am overwhelmed? © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 5  HOW DO I PRAY WHEN I AM OVERWHELMED?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from Australia was recently ousted from leadership. In revealing speeches, he spoke about bullying and intimidation.

“The reality is that a minority in the party room … have sought to bully [and] intimidate others into making this change of leadership.”

“… if people do want to conduct an internal insurgency, then, you know, that — they’re very hard to stop.

Welcome to Australian Politics.

King David also faced an insurgency. Absalom’s strategy to dethrone his own father was a war of words. His flattering words and false rumours served to destabilise David’s kingdom. David found that the best defence against those who lie like the devil is to pray like a saint.

If a telephone call can be likened to David’s morning prayer, then it is a conference call and all of us are privy to his words down through the centuries …

HOW DO YOU PRAY WHEN YOU ARE OVERWHELMED BY LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES?

  1. EXPRESS YOURSELF IN WORDS AND EMOTIONS

“O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning” (Psalm 5:1 NLT).

Romans 8:26-27 says that when we don’t have the words to pray that “… the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but You” (Psalm 5:1-2 NLT).

     2. RECOGNISE GOD’S AUTHORITY

“O Lord,.. my King”. 

David, the king of Israel calls God LORD AND KING. He recognises the highest authority. If He is my Lord and my King then He has authority over me and my circumstances and therefore I can come humbly before Him when I need help.

David says he prays to no one but You (God)”. He’s not relying on people or his own abilities and thinking, or other gods, but seeks help from God alone.

     3. BOLDLY ASK FOR UNDESERVED FAVOUR

David cries, “Listen to my cry for help”.

For followers of Christ, we have the assurance that God hears our prayers. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) says that Jesus “… understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

     4. BE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER 

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You... (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

Each morning – Notice David makes it a habit to pray each day. Beginning each day in prayer shows a consistent lifestyle of prayer and dependence in God.

     5. WAIT EXPECTANTLY FOR HIM TO ANSWER

“… I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

If I trust in God then I will have a capacity to wait expectantly for the answers I need in life.

By myself, I can become very discouraged, but when I trust in God there is a healthy expectation that God wants the best for me and rather than get depressed by the events of my life, I look for the answers.

But there is more to this prayer and some of David’s words you may find disturbing. (Read my next post)

Pastor Ross